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The Gandhi Foundation Peace Award 2011 presented to Dr Binayak Sen and Bulu Imam

The Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award 2011
was presented on 12th June 2012
to Dr Binayak Sen and Bulu Imam
for their humanitarian work and their practice of nonviolence.
A review of the event with copies of the speeches will be posted in the near future

The Peace Award was created in 1998 by Surur Hoda and Diana Schumacher with the support of The Gandhi Foundation’s Life President, Lord Attenborough. The intention is to honour individuals and groups who have advocated and practised Gandhian Nonviolence but who have received little recognition for doing so; people whom E F Schumacher called ‘our unsung heroes and heroines’. Past recipients can be seen on on the ‘Activities’ page of our website.

Lord Parekh is Emeritus Professor of Political Philosophy at the Universities of Westminster and Hull. Prior to that he was Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics. He has been a visiting professor at many universities including McGill, Harvard, Barcelona, Paris and Pennsylvania. He is the author of several widely acclaimed books in political philosophy, including Gandhi, and was recently included among the great British political philosophers of the 20th century.

Amongst many honours he has received are: BBC’s Special Lifetime Achievement Award, Distinguished Global Thinker Award from India International Centre in Delhi, The Isaiah Berlin Prize for Lifetime Contribution to Political Philosophy, Pravasi Bharatiya Sanmman and Padma Bhushan from the President of India, and sixteen Honorary Doctorates from British Universities.

Dr Binayak Sen is a Bengali paediatrician, public health specialist and activist. He is the national Vice-President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). He originally started working as a paediatrician extending health care to poor people in the rural-tribal areas of the Chhattisgarh state, doubling up as a human rights activist. While working with the state on health sector reform, he strongly criticized the government on human rights violations during the anti-Naxalite operations advocating non-violent political engagement instead.

In May 2007, he was detained for allegedly supporting the outlawed Naxalites, thereby violating the provisions of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005 (CSPSA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967. The evidence presented against him included his meetings with the jailed Naxalite leader Narayan Sanyal and certain documents allegedly supporting his links with the Naxalites. Soon after his arrest, Sen applied for bail before the Raipur Sessions Court and then the Chhattisgarh High Court but was only granted bail by the Supreme Court of India on 25 May 2009 following a huge outcry across India and abroad. Amnesty International made him a Prisoner of Conscience.

On 24 December 2010, the Raipur Sessions Court found him guilty again of helping the Naxalites, charged him with ‘connections with a banned organization’ and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Another huge outcry ensued. On April 15, 2011, the Supreme Court of India granted him bail which is still in force. This year he has received the Heinz R. Pagels Award and the Gwangju Prize, both for his work on human rights.

Bulu Imam comes from one of India’s most distinguished families which has produced a steady stream of intellectuals over the past two centuries. His great grandfather Nawab Syed Imdad Imam was given the title Shams-ul-Ulema or Poet Laureate by the British in the late 19th century and his grandfather Syed Hasan Imam was President of the Indian National Congress in 1918.

Bulu Imam is a human rights and cultural activist who is the Convener, Hazaribagh Chapter, INTACH since 1987, campaigning to save the upper Damodar Valley (Karanpura) from opencast coal mining. In 1991 he brought to light the first rock art shelter of Jharkhand at Isco and thereafter another one dozen painted rock shelters. He started the Sanskriti Museum, Hazaribagh in 1992 to preserve the tribal culture of Jharkhand, and established the Tribal Woman Artists Cooperative (TWAC) in 1993. The Cooperative has already held 50 international exhibitions and highlighted opencast coal mining in Jharkhand. He has made several films on tribal culture and art. He was shortlisted for the Goldman Award, USA, in 2006. TWAC under his guidance has led teams to major mural painting events in Australia, Germany, Italy, UK and France. He submits annual reports to ICOMOS World report on Monuments and Sites in Danger, Paris (2001-7). Bulu Imam has written several monographs on ethnic societies, rock art, archaeology, tribal art as well as recently the definitive Antiquarian Remains of North Jharkhand and other major books.

He devotes himself to writing, poetry, painting and research, and work on conservation projects. He lives with his family at the Sanskriti Centre at Hazaribagh.

Felix Padel is an anthropologist educated at Oxford University and the Delhi School of Economics. His first degree at Oxford was in Classics (Latin & Greek, ancient history, literature & philosophy), giving him an enduring interest in a long view of human history, especially through friendship with the eminent classicists Eric Dodds and George Forrest. After a year’s diploma in social anthropology, he went to Delhi University and did an M.Phil in sociology under the guidance of several eminent social scientists, including J.P.S.Uberoi, Veena Das, Andre Beteille, and A.M.Shah – a privileged initiation into Indian society.

While doing his doctorate in social anthropology, he continued to be affiliated at the Delhi School of Economics, and has lived half in India ever since. His first book, originally ‘The Sacrifice of Human Being: British Rule and the Konds of Orissa‘ (Oxford University Press, Delhi 1995) was based on his PhD, and initiated an approach of ‘reverse anthropology’, analysing the British invasion of tribal areas from the viewpoint of tribal villagers he met during the 1980s and 1990s, asking: who were the British who came to India? How did they behave? Who were the missionaries? What are the underlying beliefs and values that pervade colonial anthropology?

Within Britain Felix moved in 1992 from London/Oxford to Southwest Wales, for the sense of community-in-nature there, that led him to become a member of Plaid Cymru. In 1998, he went to stay in Banares to learn Dhrupad from vocalist Ritwik Sanyal, and in 1999, he married a woman in West Orissa, which became another home.

From 2002-10, he worked on a new book with Oriya activist, writer and film-maker Samarendra Das: ‘Out of This Earth: East India Adivasis and the Aluminium Cartel’ (Orient BlackSwan, 2010) – a book which was swiftly read and appreciated by many intellectuals, including several senior members of the Indian Government, and which has formed part of a profound opening in how many people view the adivasi and mining situations in India. At the same time, his first book was republished as ‘Sacrificing People: Invasions of a tribal landscape‘ (OBS 2010).

Felix is also a violinist, learning as a youth in London from Sheila Nelson and Emmanuel Hurwitz, and now playing many styles, with a passion for Bach. He takes inspiration from his great great grandfather Charles Darwin, for his holistic vision of man-in-nature.